IMF, World Bank, USAID Representatives in Armenia on Achievements, Challenges, and Growth

By Adrineh Der-Boghossian, Julya Sahakyan, Syuzanna Smbatyan, and Vanuhi Matevosyan, CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellows

A three-part series

Part 1 

Part 3

CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellows Julya Sahakyan, Syuzanna Smbatyan, and Vanuhi Matevosyan on September 29 and October 3 met with the heads of three major institutions in Armenia: International Monetary Fund (IMF) Resident Representative to Armenia Teresa Daban Sanchez, USAID Armenia Mission Director Karen R. Hilliard, and World Bank Country Manager Laura Bailey to ask them about their institutions’ priorities and achievements in Armenia, challenges that were particular to their experience in the country, and what they liked the most and the least in Armenia.

Part 2. Armenia: Pros and Cons

Interestingly, all three interviewees cited the warmth of Armenian people as one of the things they enjoyed most about living and working in Armenia.

“This is a very warm and welcoming country. When I walk into a shop, people smile, they say hello — it’s just very friendly. That’s a very nice thing. As a newcomer, you feel very warmly welcomed,” Laura Bailey said, adding that the second thing she liked most about the country was its beautiful scenery.

World Bank Country Manager Laura Bailey with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan (left) at the opening ceremony of the Gyumri Technology Center. Sept. 13, 2014. Photo: The World Bank.

The USAID Mission Director Karen Hilliard mentioned Armenia’s incredibly rich history and culture, a fascinating language, and the strength of Armenian family as positive disclosure, adding that "Armenians are such survivors". "It's a pleasure to work here", she confessed.

Dr.  Hilliard  speaks at the official launch of the USAID-funded Pension Reform Implementation Program, Sept. 11, 2013.
Photo: A.Karabekian, USAID/Armenia

While the IMF representative Tereza Daban Sanchez remarked that the quality of life was relatively good, there were certain situations reminding her Armenia still being a country in transition. She pointed to the lack of social cohesion and difficulties for communities to get together, and poor efforts and resources to increase the nation’s welfare collectively. As an example, she mentioned people’s reluctance to follow traffic rules, as drivers do not consider the impact their behavior has on the community’s safety. 

Moreover, Bailey also pointed out the traffic, saying that one thing she would change in Armenia was the “crazy drivers in Yerevan”!

IMF Resident Representative to Armenia Teresa Daban Sanchez (left) and IMF mission chief for Armenia Mark Horton (center). Press conference. Sept. 30, 2014. Photo: IMF Office to Armenia.

Furthermore, Ms. Hilliard  expressed a concern with regard to high level of corruption. “Armenia faces a lot of external obstacles, which have an impact on economic developments,  but the level of corruption is self-inflicted, it is something that holds Armenia back. What is the thing that I would change? - it will be that”, she said.